by Mario "Game" Granata
With another season of the Buffalo Bills futility, it seems that the Bills didn't have a Plan B when it came to the backup quarterback position. Take a look why keeping Fitzpatrick would have been a smart move for the Bills...I mean, you are already have 10 million in dead money that you owe him, might as well get the most bang for your buck.
It has been well documented that my view of the Buffalo Bills taking a quarterback in the 2013 draft wasn’t the right move. I felt that the 2014 draft is where they were going to find their franchise quarterback, and from a fan of a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs in over a decade; I would wait one more year if it meant we were going to have consistency at the quarterback position for the next 8-10 years. But, the Buffalo Bills decided to roll the dice with EJ Manuel, the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 draft (that should tell you something) and many Bills fans are wondering if the Bills should be looking for another one in 2014.
I have long been a Ryan Fitzpatrick supporter, and while many of my contemporaries would like to downgrade Fitz, there are many little things during the game that happen that don’t necessarily end up on the stat sheet. For instance, line calls, setting protection, knowing when to audible out of a bad play, are all responsibilities that the quarterback shoulders, and Fitzpatrick not only took responsibility for the offensive woes, he was also left holding the bag on a team that had the worst defense in franchise history. With all the class in the world, Ryan took his critics, (and 7 million that the Bills owed him) and went to the best back-up position in the league…behind Jake Locker. In the short time that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing for the Titans, he and EJ Manuel have some remarkable similarities. (I’ll pause while you look up their stats). This mirror image of statistics suggests that the Bills may have been better off taking one on the chin this year, and wait it out for your franchise quarterback in 2014. Maybe when they traded back, they should have looked into taking Alec Ogletree, Desmond Trufant, or Kyle Long, all players still on the board when the Bills drafted Manuel. Think of the possibilities that could have occurred with Ogletree playing next to Alonso, Trufant and Gilmore locking down the opponents 1 and 2 WR’s or Kyle Long next to Eric Wood? This would have laid the foundation for the years to come, and set the table for the next franchise quarterback.
Another scenario could have been the Bills draft Manuel (which they did) but kept Fitzpatrick (which they didn’t). Think of the scenarios that could have come about this year.
1. Manuel gets to learn from a quarterback who has played in the league for multiple teams, and knows the offense (you all remember he went to Harvard right?).
2. If Manuel does go down, you have a proven backup (not starter) who has been able to come in and play well from time to time.
3. The Bills probably beat the Browns and carry momentum into a home game vs. the Bengals (who have shown that they have some trouble on the road.)
4. Stevie Johnson, Scott Chandler, Freddy Jackson, CJ Spiller and TJ Graham already have chemistry with Fitz, so there isn’t as far as a learning curve for Manuel.
Now, these are hypothetical scenarios that could or couldn’t have happened this year, but seeing the year that Manuel is having, comparing that to the year Fitzpatrick is having (and as mentioned earlier, you already have to pay Fitzpatrick 7 million guaranteed), do you think it would have been better for the Bills to throw another year away and take a franchise quarterback next year, because when you take a step back, that may happen anyway?